States rethink border openings amid Victoria’s massive virus spike

South Australia has become the first state to delay opening its border to Victoria after its eastern neighbour’s massive spike in coronavirus infections.

NSW remains committed to keeping its border open – even as Premier Gladys Berejiklian made it clear Melburnians were not welcome to vist – while Queensland is yet to announce its much anticipated border decision.

“I’m very concerned about what’s happening in Victoria,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“Do not allow anyone from a hotspot in Melbourne or from greater Melbourne to come into your home – you have the right to say no.”

NSW Health said on Tuesday that non-essential travel between Melbourne and NSW was discouraged and that it would restrict Melbourne visitors from entering “high-risk settings” such as aged-care facilities.

Later, SA Premier Steven Marshall said a July 20 date to lift quarantine measures for Victoria, NSW and the ACT had been abandoned because of the latest health advice.

He said SA might move separately on NSW and the ACT, but restrictions on Victorians would remain.

“We are increasingly concerned about the outbreaks which are occurring in Victoria,” he said.

“At this stage, we cannot possibly lift that border [with Victoria)] on the 20th July as we were hoping to do.”

The delay comes as Victoria confirmed 367 new cases of COVID-19 in the past two weeks. On Monday alone, it had 75 new confirmed cases.

The Victorian government was to give a daily update at 2pm on Tuesday.

The state is midway through a 10-day testing blitz across 10 hotspot suburbs in Melbourne’s north and north-west, with more than 800 federal workers jetted in to assist.

Ms Berejiklian said NSW residents were “starting to relax a little too much” for her liking amid the COVID-19 pandemic but had reiterated her government would not shut the NSW-Victoria border.

NSW reported five new COVID-19 cases – all in hotel quarantine – in the 24 hours to 8pm on Monday from just under 13,000 tests.

Ms Berejiklian said her government was not contemplating closing the border, but again warned NSW residents they were becoming lax on social distancing measures, with the threat of outbreak still elevated.

“Things can change very quickly in terms of the rate of community transmission … I have noticed in and around my movements that people are starting to relax a little bit too much for my liking. Don’t relax,” she said on Tuesday.

“Assume everybody in and around you has the disease.”

Meanwhile, NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the Victorian government should look to local lockdowns in Melbourne’s hotspots.

“We’ve made it clear to Victoria that we’d be much happier if the hotspot suburbs – they’ve obviously got some challenges – were put into lockdown effectively,” Mr Hazzard told 2GB radio.

The NSW government has repeatedly warned residents of greater Melbourne to steer clear of NSW until community transmission was reduced and has said it will turn away Victorian football fans from attending matches.

From Wednesday, spectators wanting to enter NSW stadiums will have to show their driver’s licences to prove they’re not from Victoria.

“They might sound like tough things to ask people to do but that’s what will keep us safe in NSW and we certainly want to continue on the path we’re on … we have done extremely well,” Ms Berejiklian said.

Ms Berejiklian on Tuesday also encouraged her Queensland counterpart Annastacia Palaszczuk to announce a plan to open the state’s borders in July. Ms Palaszczuk was expected to make a border announcement on Tuesday.

‘No-go’ for New Zealand

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has placed the ball firmly in Australia’s court for a trans-Tasman travel bubble.

Ms Ardern said a reopening of borders would come down to Australian leaders.

“Ultimately it’s up to Australia to decide whether or not they’ll go for a whole of country approach, or a state-by-state approach,” she said.

“Obviously, where there is community outbreak that is a no-go for New Zealand.

“Where they have border controls in place and where they’ve had no community transmissions for sustained periods of time that may be a different scenario.”

NZ has not recorded a positive test outside of its border regime in five weeks.

-with AAP

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